Friedman: Bowman on Pittsburgh’s Radar? And What’s Next For The Blackhawks?
On their latest edition of their “32 Thoughts” Podcast, Elliotte Freidman and Jeff Marek did their usual great job of talking about a wide range of topics around the NHL. They spent some time talking about what’s next for the Chicago Blackhawks (we’ll get to that), but one nugget they brought up when discussing the immediate future of the Pittsburgh Penguins caught my attention.
Pittsburgh fired their president of hockey operations, general manager and assistant general manager after missing the playoffs for the first time in almost two decades. Those are prominent positions on a team that still has one of the standard bearers of his generation, Sidney Crosby. So there is going to be a lot of attention on where Fenway Sports Group (owners of the Penguins) goes with this decision.
As I mentioned in our bullets on Monday, Blackhawks associate general manager Jeff Greenberg was mentioned as a potential candidate for the Penguins’ general manager job by Rob Rossi at The Athletic.
Freidman also mentions Greenberg, saying former Cubs president Theo Epstein is a big fan of Greenberg from their time together on Chicago’s North Side. So let’s keep that in our back pocket. “That’s the kind of name” that might interest Fenway Sports Group, which is fascinating after only one year in an NHL front office. “That kind of person” is key: maybe not necessarily Greenberg personally, but his diverse background in analytics.
But then Friedman also brings up another name that really interested me: Stan Bowman. He points to Bowman’s history with Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan, who spent the 2014-15 season as a member of the Blackhawks’ player development staff and was supposed to coach the Olympic team of which Bowman was the GM.
“I would expect the Penguins would ask the NHL about speaking to Stan Bowman, just because Stan Bowman and Mike Sullivan had a history … Bowman at one time was GM, before he resigned, of the US Olympic team in 2022 if the NHLers had gone and Sullivan was supposed to be the coach, so there is a working relationship there, however that is something they have to go to the NHL with first”
What’s Next For The Blackhawks?
Friedman is interested in who Chicago’s next “core” group of players includes. “Who are they building around? Who’s important to them? … Is next year another year like this one? Or are they looking to say ‘We’d like to build a little bit.'”
Marek draws a parallel to Detroit’s summer of 2022, but they both agree the Blackhawks aren’t there yet. But they also note there isn’t a scent of the last generation of Blackhawks on the ice, but they wonder who’s here at this point. Friedman doesn’t think the Blackhawks are going to be as aggressive as Detroit was last summer (which Kyle Davidson confirmed in his end-of-season media availability) but they’re interested in how and on whom they do spend money.
Friedman doesn’t think landing Connor Bedard changes the plan; Marek thinks they might look to add higher quality veterans around him. We’ll see.